The N.F.L. and the Four-Hour Erection

To get things started on Monday Night Football a week and a half ago, ABC ran a skit designed to promote Desperate Housewives, the latest entry in pop culture’s dumbing-down sweepstakes. The inane little piece, set in a locker room, ended with an actress/desperate housewife named Nicollette Sheridan dropping a towel-viewers were treated to a glimpse of her back-and leaping into the embrace Terrell Owens, a receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles.

An uproar ensued, of course. The National Football League announced that the skit was “inappropriate and unsuitable for our Monday Night Football audience.”

The N.F.L. got it exactly wrong. The skit was entirely appropriate for M.N.F., if you assume-as the show’s producers and advertisers clearly do-that the show’s audience consists in the main of moronic frat boys who guzzle beer, play violent video games, drive fast cars and require a little help in the bedroom.

To watch M.N.F., or any professional football game today, is to be overwhelmed with salacious beer ads featuring women bursting out of small bathing suits, crude commercials for violent video games featuring thug-like athletes, and a potency-improving drug that warns users to call a doctor (but not a desperate housewife?) in the event of a four-hour erection.

Pre-game shows feature former athletes who clearly could have benefited from more effective head protection during their playing days. One of the N.F.L.’s broadcast partners, Fox, regularly celebrates not skill and grace, but self-centered grandstanding and violent tackles. CBS uses its N.F.L. coverage to promote shows like C.S.I.: Whatever, making sure to show lots of mangled corpses and gratuitous gunfire to excite the football-viewing masses.

Despite all this, I still follow the Giants on TV every week, and I’ll check out the two Thanksgiving Day games this Thursday. But when I’m watching the N.F.L., the remote is never far from my hand, lest any innocents enter the room.

You’d think I was watching porno. But it’s just the N.F.L.

-Terry Golway

Five Reasons Sideways Flops

1. It steals a whole plot line from Swingers (guy tries to get his heartbroken buddy laid during road trip; heartbroken buddy ditches hot prospect, makes pathetic phone calls to ex)-and Swingers had less irritating interstitial music.

2. The idea that someone who looks like Virginia Madsen would go for someone who looks like Paul Giamatti-ludicrous. No wonder paunchy fortysomething heterosexual film critics like this movie.

3. Ooh, look at me! I’m a fancy “indie” director. I can split the screen into four parts!

4. Half an hour too long.

5. Who leaves wedding bands in his wallet?

-Alexandra Jacobs


The latest fashion in sex is hand-licking.

“Strangely, it started on the Upper East Side,” notes sex researcher Kyle Davaratt. “It slowly migrated downtown and has now reached Brooklyn.”

Most popular among 29-to-34-year-olds, hand-licking usually occurs during foreplay but may also accompany genital sex.

“It can be erotic, but sometimes I find it nauseating,” observed Adele S., 30, of Chelsea. “If I drink margaritas I like it, but after two beers it grosses me out.”

“When I was a kid, I had a border collie who constantly licked my hand,” recalled Matt Vistad, 33, of Carroll Gardens, “so I find it comforting.”

-Sparrow The N.F.L. and the Four-Hour Erection